Experienced by Adrian McQueen
Photos by Adrenaline Lifestyles
In the center of Ward 8, the 5th annual Broccoli City Festival at Gateway Pavilion shut down DC once again. The rainy forecast did not deter over 8,000 people to descend upon Gateway DC, the former St. Elizabeths Hospital campus, for day full of fun, music, food and healthy living. Nestled between Martin Luther King Ave and Alabama Avenue, Gateway DC is an innovative and unique state-of-the-art open-air and covered pavilion in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC. Due to the incoming $65 million Washington Wizards and Mystics facility there was a lot of construction and change of layout from the previous Broccoli City Festival. The reconfiguration of the space still encompassed the vibe of the festival, being an eco-inspired music and art festival that takes this opportunity to bring in urban millennials from around the world to learn about healthy eating and environmental sustainability.
This year was a bit different and special for the festival as many events were curated throughout the week instead of just a one day festival. Broccoli City kicked the week off with the BC 5K Run & Fitness event with District Running Collective and Rock Creek Social Club at Anacostia Park. Next up was the BC Art All Night event and Trap Karaoke that took place in Ivy City. The Broccoli Conference took place at the Kellogg Conference Center and at Google DC with panelists such as Mia Phillips – the Director of Multicultural & Brand Strategy at Toyota, Angie Goff – NBC 4 News anchor, Mark Bustos – Founder of Be Awesome to Somebody, Styles P – The Phantom Entertainment, along with many more notables. The Toyota Green Initiative held a volunteer day of service at the Blind Whino Dreaming Out Loud organic garden in SW, Washington DC. The week ended with a private viewing and panelist discussion of the movie Wattstax in the Oprah theatre at the National Museum of African American History & Culture – Center for African America Media Arts. The Toyota Green Initiative also hosted a VIP dinner to spread the word on how they plan to reach the African American Community in 2017 and beyond.
The anticipation for BC Fest ran high and this was clearly evident by the amount of people arriving before the gates opened up at Noon. To ease the concerns of many people traveling to the festival and concerned about parking, the Toyota Green Initiative had them covered. Guests were treated to rides in the 2017 Toyota Rav 4 from the Congress Heights metro station to the festival. Toyota’s latest RAV4 is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and two electric motors located in the front and rear. When running both the gas engine and electric motors, the RAV4 will reach up to 194-horsepower and produce up to 206 lb.-ft. of torque. There was no shortage of Product Specialists on site to get the festivalgoers to the show in style.
The Toyota Green exhibit wasn’t just a showcase of cars but yet it was an experience full of many different engaging activities. Guests were able to exercise on stationary bikes that connected to a charging station to give their phones new life. The Toyota staff also set up a Do-it-Yourself station where Body Scrub, Hand Sanitizer and Air & Fabric Softner were on the menu. Festivalgoers were also able to shoot their own music video, alongside tunes from the DJ. A few Rav 4’s and a custom Toyota Prius were part of the display as well. What a great way to show how Toyota believes in the need to promote the ideas of ecology, encourage respect for life on earth, and highlight growing concern over pollution of the soil, air, and water.
The Broccoli City Festival also had a wellness center, several food trucks, food stations, a pop-up market, and a plethora of resources about how to live a healthier life. Throughout the park were many live art installations as well. To be in one place, with so many creative minds, was very refreshing and exciting for me and many others. Broccoli City’s organizers are working to ensure that its message isn’t lost amid growing popularity. Tickets were also earned through the Power of One campaign. The Power of One is a campaign of Broccoli City Inc. 501c(3) that is engaging millennials to help build their communities by being active participants through community service actions.
The festival was complete with many musical acts, national and local. I did miss not having any GoGo bands this year and hope that at least one band is brought back next year. Let’s not forget that we are in Washington DC, the home of GoGo. The City Stage and Broccoli Stage were set on fire the entire day, alternating artists and shuffling festivalgoers throughout the venue. The Broccoli Stage was decked all the way out with large monitors on both sides and a large digital screen served as the backdrop of the stage. Each side of the stage had a VIP area that was sponsored by Titos Vodka and D’usse Cognac. The performer VIP area was a showcase of detail at its finest. The curators handling this aspect of the show outdid themselves.
Artists such as Chaz French, Aluna George, 21 Savage, Lil Yachty and more kept the stages sizzling and the crowd grooving all day before the two headliners got on and shut it down. Solange had a very soulful set complete with dance moves and crowd interaction. The performance of “Cranes in the Sky” put the crowd in a melodious zone. Closing out the show and sending the crowd into overdrive was Rae Sremmurd. Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi came on stage wearing “EAT – Elevate All the Time” which is a clothing label from Washington DC clothing designer, Malik Jarrett. Screams throughout the crowd and a wave of social media posts about the label being worn, exhibited how the Washington DC crowd embraced this gesture of respecting the DC culture by Rae Sremmurd. Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee didn’t waste any time getting the party started by opening up to “Start a Party”. Their set was definitely the most energetic of the evening. If you were not on site to catch the action, the festival was streamed live via Tidal across the world.
The show was hosted by Rock Creek Social clubs own Kevin “Unkle Scooty” Hallums and Washington Wizards arena host Rodney Rikai. DJ Jerome Baker III kept the crowd grooving with his unique and killer playlist with DJ Dominque behind the scenes controlling the stage traffic and making sure all the acts were running on time. There is no debate that when the Rock Creek Social club team is tasked to entertain your crowd, they will not disappoint. Community speaker and philanthropist Tony Lewis Jr. made an appearance and spoke to the crowd, encouraging them to be the change that they want to see. This event had so many more partners that helped make this festival happen with fun and engaging displays such as Planned Parenthood, State Farm Insurance and CBS Radio/WPGC 95.5. Broccoli City also partnered with local nonprofits and government agencies to educate the audience about sustainable lifestyle and community solutions.
I have to send a huge thanks to the Broccoli City team for making this event happen and giving Washington DC yet another spectacular event to look forward to. The team is compiled of co-founder Brandon McEachern, co-founder Marcus Allen and Darryl Perkins who is the Director of Programs and Community Engagement. There are more people involved with this project, to many to name, but their hard work does not go unnoticed and is appreciated.
The rain and muddy fields could not stop what was destined to be and that was a day full of fun, education, networking and partying. All in all, it was definitely a great show and I can’t wait to see what the Broccoli City team has in store for next year. Follow everything from the Broccoli City Festival on social media searching the hashtags #BCFEST , #BCFEST2017, #ToyotaGreen & #ToyotaGreenInitiative